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What is Synthetic Biology?

Context:

As per study by USA, due to climate change one-third of all animal and plant species on the planet could face extinction by 2070.

  • Environmentalists consider synthetic biology or ‘synbio’ as a potential tool to preserve biodiversity and restore the natural ecosystem.

Relevance:

GS III- Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Synthetic Biology?
  2. Difference between synthetic biology and genome editing:
  3. Applications of synthetic biology

What is Synthetic Biology?

  • Synthetic biology is a field of science that involves redesigning organisms for useful purposes by engineering them to have new abilities.
  • Synthetic biology researchers and companies around the world are harnessing the power of nature to solve problems in medicine, manufacturing and agriculture.
What can synthetic biology do?

Redesigning organisms so that they produce a substance, such as a medicine or fuel, or gain a new ability, such as sensing something in the environment, are common goals of synthetic biology projects. Some examples of what scientists are producing with synthetic biology are:

  • Microorganisms harnessed for bioremediation to clean pollutants from our water, soil and air.
  • Rice modified to produce beta-carotene, a nutrient usually associated with carrots, that prevents vitamin A deficiency.
    • Vitamin A deficiency causes blindness in 250,000 – 500,000 children every year and greatly increases a child’s risk of death from infectious diseases.
  • Yeast engineered to produce rose oil as an eco-friendly and sustainable substitute for real roses that perfumers use to make luxury scents.

Difference between synthetic biology and genome editing:

In some ways, synthetic biology is similar to another approach called “genome editing” because both involve changing an organism’s genetic code; however, some people draw a distinction between these two approaches based on how that change is made.

Synthetic biology:
  • In synthetic biology, scientists typically stitch together long stretches of DNA and insert them into an organism’s genome.
  • These synthesized pieces of DNA could be genes that are found in other organisms or they could be entirely novel.
Genome editing:
  • In genome editing, scientists typically use tools to make smaller changes to the organism’s own DNA.
  • Genome editing tools can also be used to delete or add small stretches of DNA in the genome.

Applications of synthetic biology

The application of synthetic biology varies from life sciences inquest to the research of biofuels. The potential of synthetic biology is quite vast and stirring.

  • Industrial Enzymes – the manufactory of industrial enzymes in quest of supportable processes that facilitates greater yield, expanded enzymes, higher efficiency etc.
  • Biofuels – accumulation genes, microbes and plants for effective transformation of feedstock as biofuels.
  • Antibody prolongation and vaccine – stimulates in industry to enhance the therapeutic pipeline and increase the progress rate of practices. Vaccines spotlights on prevention of diseases and illness.
  • Bio-based chemicals – accredits the quick fix from nature. Implies sustainable advances to plastic, chemicals, textiles with minimal effect t on the environment.
  • Plant science – combined ways and automations to facilitate sequence-to-function scrutiny of plants.

-Source: Down to earth


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